Executive Order Mandating Right of Access to Information on Matters of Public Concern in the Executive Branch

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His Excellency
Benigno S. Aquino, III
President of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, Philippines

Dear Mr. President:

In your inaugural address on June 30, 2010 , you said that the mandate given you was one of change and that you accept our marching orders to transform our government from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation and that your foremost duty is to lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance; your campaign statement "If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor" is no mere slogan for posters-- it is the defining principle that will serve as the foundation of your administration. When you led the signing of the "Manifesto of Hope" during the Liberal Partys 64th anniversary celebration you pledged to fight corruption in government, social and political conflict, and poverty. In your speech at the Public-Private Projects (PPP) Conference, Infrastructure Philippines 2010 on Nov. 18, 2010 you re-confirmed that you were "elected on the promise to reduce poverty and fight corruption"; you stated that "the way forward is to move, together, in the broad light of day, where everything we do and how we do it is clear, honest, and transparent." Furthermore, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda was quoted as saying: "The administration will continue to establish the daylight of transparency and accountability on all fronts, despite vigorous opposition from those who want to return to the old ways of deceit and dishonesty for personal gain." On the strength and promise of the above statements, we are writing you this petition.

There is corruption in government because there is opportunity for it. Vulnerability to corruption arises from lack of implementation of adequate checks and balances in government a form of weakness in anti-corruption internal control. The alleged newly exposed earthshaking corruption in the military may show that the Commission on Audit (COA), the constitutional behemoth that is supposed to look at what our government officials are doing, may fail to fully safeguard propriety on many corruption-prone government operations and transactions for one reason or another.

Therefore, the people have to take it upon themselves to look at what our COA and other government officials are doingfor purposes of fighting corruption and improving governance. To perform their monitoring role as vital part of checks and balances in government, the people need freedom of information, even if only to begin at the Executive Branch where a big portion of the budget is spent.

Accordingly, we would like to petition you to issue an interim Executive Order that will cover solely the Executive Branch, while awaiting the Congressional passage of The Freedom of Information Act. This Executive Order, which is a mandate on anti-corruption transparency and accountability, should mandate the right of access to information on matters of public concern guaranteed under Section 28, Article II and Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, with every Department giving full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest, of course with certain limitations you can impose to prevent its abuse and/or misuse.

Your issuing this interim Executive Order will be a concrete proof of your sincerity and resolve to fight graft and corruption, alleviate poverty and empower every Filipino citizen as "your boss." When you issue this Interim Executive Order covering solely the Executive Branch, we sincerely hope that our Congress will follow your example so that all branches of our government will be covered by a mandate on anti-corruption transparency and accountability by their passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

We join you in your hope that when you leave office, everyone can say that you have traveled far on the right path, and that you are able to bequeath a better future to the next generation.

Respectfully yours,

Concerned Filipinos in our homeland and in diaspora:

Loida Nicolas Lewis, Esq. (New York) - Co-Founder, US Pinoys for Good Governance; Co-Founder, National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)
Atty. Rodel Rodis - Founder, US Pinoys for Good Governance; Co-Founder, NaFFAA
Lolita Farmer - OAM, Chair, Worlwide Filipino Alliance; Fil/Aust Dual Citizen.
Prof. Cesar Torres - Chairman, Worldwide Filipino Alliance
Anita Sese-Schon -NGO President/Chair, Board of Governors
Daisy Brett-Holt - Chair, Philippine Jury International, Ltd.
John Leonard Monterona - Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Victor S. Barrios - Convenor, Global Filipino Nation
Ricky Xavier - Manila, Philippines. Chairman, Movement for HOPE
Patrick D. Pantaleon - Manila, Philippines; Convenor, La Salle Ateneo At Lahat Na, Center for Good Governance and COMPACT.
Arman Muleem - Jeddah, KSA
Marcelo L. Tecson - San Miguel, Bulacan, Philippines
Julia Carreon-Lagoc - Member, Worldwide Filipino Alliance; Fil-Am Dual Citizen; Columnist, PANAY NEWS.
Maria Elizabeth Embry - Member, Worldwide Filipino Alliance.
Victor A. Tanchoco - Legazpi City, Albay,Philippines
Nelson A. Paguyo, M.D. - NGO member, Fil/Am Dual Citizen
Gregorio T. Mariano, Jr.,M.D. - Fil/Am Dual Citizen, Pennsylvania, USA